The Poverty of Perspective
This past May, myself and 22 other members of the McNeese Newman Club went on a Mission Trip to Jamaica and stayed with the brothers of the Missionaries of the Poor. This is an entry from my journal that will help give you an idea of how we lived for 10 days:
The conditions in which the brothers live is not ideal or glamorous in any means. They live in multiple floored buildings with walls that do not reach the ceiling due to the need for air circulation. Every bed has a mosquito net, fitted sheet, single sheet, and pillow. The roof looks like the inside of a ship, like Noah’s Ark. It’s hot and humid, yes, but I am happy here. I wonder if this is peace?
So here I am, Lord. Open heart and open hands, use me.
Leaving Jamaica and the people who taught me more than I have learned in my life was one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life thus far. I knew I was leaving with a new heart, but I had no idea how heavy it was going to be to carry in this place that I called “home.” I knew that my vocation for sharing the Gospel had now been changed. I could never un-see the things I had seen or un-know what I now know. God had now invited me and the other 22 individuals to work on a project He had intimately been working on for a very long time. I am comforted still, thousands of years later, in these 5 words that Mary used at the wedding of Cana:
“Do whatever He tells you.”
If you get anything from this let it be these 3 points:
- The Two Types of Poverty in the World
- Where are we looking for love?
- Servant Leadership
The Two Types of Poverty in the World are the Poverty of the Poor and the Poverty of Perspective. Poverty of the Poor-this would be what most individuals think of when hearing the word “poverty.” Individuals who are homeless, who are in third-world countries, who do not have the freedom or the means to change the conditions of their suffering. Poverty of Perspective-this is the greater poverty that strikes the United States, according to St. Teresa of Calcutta, “You, in the West, have millions of people who suffer such terrible loneliness and emptiness. They feel unloved and unwanted. These people are not hungry in the physical sense, but they are in another way. They know they need something more than money, yet they don’t know what it is. What they are missing, really, is a living relationship with God.” We live in a nation founded on freedom; we did not want to suffer by any means. But in doing this we did not understand that suffering is necessary in order to get to Heaven.
Where are we looking for love?
I know that this is a topic that seems to be everywhere right now, but how and where we look for love is directly connected to how we expect love from Christ. We let society conform us into this mindset of expecting other humans to love us in ways that only God can.
This world is not our home.
We must give up our worldly attachments in order to be truly free and able to get to our true home, Heaven. This is more than just giving up material things such as our Smartphones, cars, clothes, social media, etc. This is even more than just our social or economic status; it is our earthly relationships. It is giving up the mindset that would keep you attached to someone’s human form in this world, rather than the destination of their soul. Our job as disciples of Christ is to help get each other to Heaven, even if that means discomfort here on Earth.
There, sounds simple, right? But is it that simple when it comes to family, to our parents or siblings? I am just now starting to understand that not even my family is worth my spot in Heaven. That when it comes to helping those around me get to Heaven, that should not stop with my family. Because I can help them a million times more from Heaven. It is not fun or easy when you realize that the ones that God trusted to help us become the disciples we should, did not live up to their promise. It hurts. It makes it harder for us to choose to love. But we still have to choose it, every time. SOMETIMES ALL THERE IS TO DO IS TO STEP UP AND STRUGGLE.
What makes a good leader? Think about that for a second. Think about characteristics of a leader–courage, wisdom, creative, fair, adaptability, etc. The list could go on, but does your list have humility? Because it should. I do not mean humble in the surface level definition of the word. According to Google, the definition of humility is a modest or low view of one’s own importance.
Despite what Kendrick Lamar says, being humble is more than just sitting down. It is more than not accepting compliments that are given to you or purposely putting yourself last in line, when everyone gets food. If it was as simple as always being last, then people would be knocking each other down to be in the back. Being humble is hard because it goes against the most deadly sin…pride. Humility requires sacrifice and discomfort. This is precisely how it connects to servant leadership.
Servant leadership is not about just putting people in front of you, it is about walking behind the group with your hand out in front of you pushing them in the direction of Heaven. Even if it means you both become uncomfortable. It is loving them more than to let them be comfortable here in this world, instead of true comfort in Christ. I recently heard this at a Leadership Camp I staffed “The apostles had three years of the best religious education possible and still at first, abandoned what they knew.” Have mercy on yourself; doing what is right is hard. You have to constantly choose Him above this world.
I will leave you with something that one of the Brothers in Jamaica told us about serving the poor, “The more that you serve the souls here, the better they will learn your name. And when you get to Heaven, those are the souls that will be the ones that remember your name and tell Jesus how you cared for them.” So whether you are serving the Poverty of the poor or the Poverty of Perspective, those souls will remember you. And I do not know about you, but I do not want to be at the gates of Heaven unremembered.
Remember, love and be loved,